Christian radio casts net across Middle East
Anne Reed
AFA Journal staff writer

August 2019 – From the shore of the Sea of Galilee, Jesus is still teaching men how to fish. And the nets are cast far beyond Israel’s border.

Nestled on the southern shore of the stunningly beautiful freshwater lake in northern Israel is the nation’s first and only Christian radio station. The Voice of Hope radio is reaching Muslims in Israel, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Cyprus, Turkey, and Egypt with the message of hope in the Messiah.

Here in the U.S., AM/FM broadcasting, satellite radio, and Internet are readily accessible. But in many other heavily restricted countries, inhabitants are dependent on foreign broadcasts for information that would otherwise 
be hidden.

John and Heather Tayloe (photo, right), residents of Southern California, recognized the void and established Strategic Communications Group in 1998. Over two billion people are now within reach of SCG’s Voice of Hope radio.

By 2010, VOH was permeating Africa and Latin America through shortwave radio. And, while the Tayloes had visited Israel years earlier, the possibility of establishing a station there was no longer on their radar.

“It’s really impossible to do because the laws in Israel are not for this kind of broadcasting,” John told AFA Journal. But one day, he was having lunch with a pastor in Simi Valley, California, and they began to see God’s strategy come into focus.

The plan unfolds
The couple soon met Jacob “Yaki” Dayan, Israel’s senior representative in the Southwestern U.S. He had served in a wide array of top Israeli government positions promoting peaceful negotiations through strategic policy initiatives prior to his post in Los Angeles, 

“As consul general here in the South- western District of the U.S., Jacob worked with Evangelical Christians,” explained John, “and he became aware of their great love for Israel and really felt Christian support strengthened Israel.” And he became convinced that Christian radio would improve Israeli foreign relations.

The minister of communication at the time, who was also Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu, immediately understood the benefit of the potential cooperation. Though he signed the broadcasting license in 2014, it was meaningless without access to the airspace.

Are they going to allocate the frequency to us? John and Heather contemplated with bated breath and prayer as Dayan met with Israeli decision-makers, including the Army and Air Force.

Discussion at the meeting focused on VOH’s potential reach and whether the broadcasts would “leak into Israel.”

“No, it’s not going to leak into Israel,” explained Dayan. “It’s going to saturate Israel.”

Dayan explained that the programming would be broadcast primarily in Arabic, with some English. When he assured them that communications would not be in the native Hebrew language, the atmosphere in the room shifted.

Israeli leaders were aware of the dire situation of Christians and Muslims in surrounding nations and wanted to help. The frequency was granted enthusiastically for the first time ever to a non-Israeli entity. VOH began officially broadcasting from Israel in March 2017.

By God’s power
“You can’t tell this story without recognizing it was absolutely something that was accomplished with the power of God,” explained Heather. “Zechariah 4:6 says, ‘Not by might, not by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord.’ So we are very aware each and every day of broadcast that not any one person can claim anything concerning that station, but it was God Himself that got involved.”

VOH’s presence has been widened through social media where its programming is streamed live, facilitating immediate audience interaction with those who can access it from their phones and other devices. VOH videos are shared over and over again – some having over 90,000 views.

The thematic programming covers subjects such as healing, baptism of the Holy Spirit, salvation, or how to deal with issues within the family – things common to all of us. Each subject is then addressed from a biblical perspective. And according to John, “some of the finest Christian Arabic music that’s ever been assembled” is aired on VOH, much of it written and produced by former Muslims who sing about their journey to freedom in Christ.

“We exist to be a support to the existing Christians in the entire Middle East region,” said John. “And we are also reaching out to those who have never heard the gospel. Many Muslims have heard the gospel and begun to ask questions. And over time, some of them have become followers of Jesus.

“Many born into Islam are now turning to Jesus. This moment in history presents an epic opportunity for the gospel.”

Gospel of peace
“When Muslims come to the Lord, they very often become like the book of Acts church in praying for each other,” explained John. “They forgive each other, and they love the Jews. This transformation has been witnessed. What a great way to spread peace in the region by proclaiming the gospel of peace.”

The focus of VOH, however, is less on Muslims and more on the gospel itself. While many listeners were born into Islam, others were born into Christianity as a religious affiliation. And people who are Christians in name only also come into relationship with Jesus through the hearing of the gospel message.

VOH’s purpose is international and extends beyond religious borders. Its world-class shortwave radio is able to reach target audiences many thousands of miles away. It transcends political and geographical barriers, breaks through government and cultural restrictions, and overcomes illiteracy.

“And Israel is helping us do it,” said John. “It’s really exciting!”

“Israel as a country displays love, care, and concern for people,” explained Heather, “not just Jews, not just people of their culture or religious affiliation, but they reach beyond themselves.”

Christian radio in Israel seemed like an impossible feat. And Christian radio in Middle Eastern Muslim countries was an unrealistic pipe dream. Now through the VOH station in Israel, millions of people are reached with the message of hope. With God, all things are possible.

“Many people have tried to do this over the years, and the doors were closed,” said John. “... But when God is ready to do something – when He leads us to do something – He enables us to do it. And so it looks like we’re the heroes. But we’re really not. It’s God.”

The Tayloes simply heard and obeyed the Master’s command: “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers
of men.”  

A few notes of encouragement:

“I am a former Muslim listening to Voice of Hope on Facebook. I am encouraging others to listen as well.”

— Mustaffa from Morocco

 “Bless the Voice of Hope! May the Lord keep you going on your message. I pray for more grace!”

— Wissam from Jordan

“Blessings upon Voice of Hope! May the Lord use you [for] the glory of His name[‘s] sake!”

— Aziz from Egypt

focus for 2019, the year of harvest:

▶ Release of the Holy Spirit.
▶ Salvation in great numbers.
▶ Healing of sickness and disease.
▶ Increase in those being called to teach and preach.
▶ New believers with a heart for evangelism and discipleship.
▶ Renewal of faith in those who feel like giving up.
▶ Access to advanced technology and tools to effectively and strategically deliver the gospel message.
▶ Phone App: Voice of Hope – Middle East
▶ Search Facebook for: Saoutalmal Voice of Hope Middle East
▶ Voice of Hope Radio Israel/Middle East: 1287 AM